Leveler Poetry Journal
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I think of three men walking backwards

with leaf blowers, their steps in time

with each other, my head roaring

as the leaves blow away by a few feet.


The skyline was rosy from the sun, was dirty, clouds thinning

the farther I walked. My breath starts deep in my chest,

It leaves my body like a needle from an injection.

The hour of the morning when people walk their dogs,


the crinkle of plastic bags in hands, the clinking of ID tags

against one another, and barking, the sound of dogs sniffing

hard against the crocuses, my breath, I feel it heavy in my body

when it should be light.


The candles smell of cinnamon, I watch the flames.

I think of, I think of how I am not doing this right,

the breathing and the living part, I do not worship

what this earth has given me, I am cruel to my body, I judge others.


After buying the Buddha, a woman outside asked for money

and I told her no and yes, gave her a dollar, she said thank you,

and I asked her if it would be helpful, she said thank you. What had I wanted

to hear that I hadn’t heard? The roar of the leaf blowers.


I want to be a good person. The air thick with cinnamon.

The Buddha is teal, oxidized copper, my breath Morse code,

distress call made to this statue, its eyes

are closed, I think of nothing, my thoughts blinking.


I saw a dead cat on the sidewalk, pulled from the road but left

for someone else to discard. A demolished thrift store, the

Easter hat peeking from the rubble. The chickens I held,

the guilt I’ve felt in my life, the shame.


A woman at a piano plays a single deep note to its very end.

She is my mother. Exhale. Like strychnine

from my body. She turns, and smiles at me, toothless.

Her gums as red as candles, hollowed from the flames.

Shevaun Brannigan